Stolen Valor: Cover Reveal

Hey everyone, I’m happy to reveal the awesome cover for Stolen Valor, Book 2 of the Forsaken Valor series.

Stolen Valor comes out next week, June 8th,  and I can’t wait for you all to see what happens in this one.  It was a blast to write and I think you’re all going to love it!

Stolen Valor: Forsaken Valor Book 2

They stole my life, so I stole one right back.

My name is William Alexander Armstrong.  I come from a long, honorable, military family.  My grandparents were heroes back home… but not me.  Kidnapped by pirates, I’ve had to fight to survive on the streets of an alien world.  Only now, I’ve got a way out.
 
The only trouble is, my way out is to serve in the enemy’s military, hidden under a stolen identity.  I’ve got to hide who I am, build alliances, and hope to keep my head down at a military institute where one in three trainees don’t survive.
 
But hiding isn’t in my blood.  I’m an Armstrong, I’m born to fight, born to lead… and in this case, that might be the only thing that saves me.  Because something is rotten at the Heart of Drakkus Prime, and stolen identity or not, valor may be the only thing to save the day.
Stolen Valor is coming June 8th

Coming Soon: Stolen Valor!

Alright everyone!  Mark you calendars, because Stolen Valor, the second book of the Forsaken Valor series is coming!  Right now I’ve got it scheduled for June 8th.

I’m really excited to get this one out to everyone, because it’s been incredibly awesome to write.  William Armstrong has a very different story from that of his sister and the places it goes and the ideas and themes I’m getting to explore are a blast.  Plus there’s powered armor and big guns, so what’s not to like?

Stolen Valor will be live on Amazon on June 8th, and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Guns, Lots of Guns: John Wick Parabellum Movie Review

John Wick was a movie that quite frankly caught me off-guard.  I went into it expecting some kind of mindless action flick and got caught up in a visceral revenge movie with amazing fight scenes.  John Wick as a character possessed intriguing levels of depth and a level of resignation and crisp professionalism about everything he did.  There was no wasted movement, no extra effort.

Coming out of that, John Wick 2 was far more mindless and violent.  It had a over-complicated plot that tried to tie into a greater world, one of debts and secret societies and complex conspiracies, one which the first one hinted at but never really explained.  JW2 explored that world, but at a cost to the titular character.  His motivations became murky, his actions lost their singular, vengeful purpose.  Also, to challenge him, the fights became bigger, broader, more elaborate and challenging.

Into that setting sweeps John Wick 3 and at first, it seems to take a step back to the original.  John is fighting to survive.  But then it delves back into the secret society stuff, which, while interesting, doesn’t grip as emotionally.  There’s plenty of action.  Some very awesome fight scenes, especially early on… but then there’s some mid movie that are *over* choreographed, almost wooden.  You can almost hear the director going stop, now do step b, stop, now do step c, etc.  And then the motivations become less clear.  Is John doing what he does to survive or for some other reason.  Is this part of his plan, has he had a plan?  Indeed, is John his real name?

It’s a sort of existential crisis that robs the movie of some of the hook.  It’s an interesting set of twists, but these twists aren’t explored.  Bits of JW’s past are brought up, hinted at, revealed, and discarded without any emotional impact.  The ties that bind this secretive criminal empire are shown, but we aren’t given reason to care.  Each new group is either a reluctant ally or the source of countless assassins willing to die for the chance to take down John Wick.

And boy do they die.  Sometimes in inadvertently amusing fashions as they come and go so quickly.  JW’s coup-de-grace headshot is almost comical as the CGI blood splatters from him splitting skulls and stabbing through craniums and then following up with headshots.  The action is rapid-fire (see what I did there?) and it doesn’t stop.  The tension is constant, with some heel-turn moments that leave you guessing… but also left me unsatisfied.  Those who take action are for the most part open books, but JW’s motivations are hard to interpret and, well, murky.  And those of some of his allies, well, those can be even less satisfying.

I’m all for the awesome carnage and the fantastic fight scenes.  Keanu Reeves and Halley Berry do and did some amazing scenes and I would love to see this level of fedelity in more action movies.  On the other side of things, the movie’s writers need to be beaten.  Both actors did fantastic jobs with the bits they were given, but the writers seemed to think that a few mysterious looks and sparse words would do, when in reality that’s just not enough.  At this point, hundreds, possibly even a thousand, assassins have died at John’s hands.  People don’t go blindly to their deaths against those kinds of odds without real motivation.  Someone doesn’t *kill* that many people without some kind of real drive.  Give JW a story worthy of that drive, not some half-assed power struggle in an organization that we don’t even know the name of… after three movies.

Make the goals, the motivations, something we are emotionally invested in… make the carnage something worthwhile.  Otherwise you end up with this, a movie where a guy we used to know kills a lot of faceless mooks in really cool, creative ways.

Kal’s May 2019 Forecast

Hey everyone, it’s been a bit of a crazy past few months, but I’m getting back into things and I should be on track again soon.  If you hadn’t seen, my father passed away recently and combined with some other family things, some work things, and some Army things, well, life has been a bit more hectic than usual.  I can’t say it’s getting any better in the near future, but I am adjusting and, well, there’s about as much good as (or more than) the bad.

So, anyway, what’s the rest of May hold in store?  Well, I’m hopeful to get Stolen Valor, the 2nd Forsaken Valor book, completed, edited, and published by the end of the month.  It’s a matter of completing it and getting it to my beta readers in time and I think that’s on track.

As I finish that off, I aim to do the same with the second Argonauts book, A Cold Day in Hades, which I need to finish, edit, and again, send to my beta readers.  From there, I’ll do my final edits and send it to Chris Kennedy Publishing.  My goal is to get that sent to them before the end of the month, as well.

What else, you ask?  Well, there’s quite a few projects I want to work, including a new one (gasp, I know, I have a lot of in-progress series).   But the next book I plan to publish is the last of the main-line Shadow Space Chronicles books, The Star Engine.

I know I won’t get it done before the end of the month, but it’s going to be coming in the next few months.  It’s a bit behind when I planned it, but I think it’ll be worth the wait, tying of the SSC storyline and setting things up for future series in that universe.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

Steven Spriggs

My father passed away on Thursday.

Steven Spriggs passed away on May 2nd, 2019 while recovering from surgery.  He was sixty-eight years old.  Steven served thirty years in the military, as an officer and enlisted, active duty and reserve, in the Army and the Navy.  A father of four, he was preceded in death by his wife, Janis, who passed away in 2010.  He is survived by his four children: Jacob, Paula, Brooke, and Luke and one grandchild, Robert.

Steven was a complicated man.  He served in the military, he taught yoga as a certified yoga instructor, he rode a Harley, and drove a tractor on his farm.  He could give you his heart in one sentence and then dismiss your existence in the next.   He could be kind and generous at one moment and at another, the most miserable bastard in the world.   Steven grew up in an abusive family, dealt with PTSD from deployments, and in his final years he dealt with a chronic, painful condition as a result of injuries that eventually lead to his death.  He retired from the United States Army after thirty years of service, serving two tours in Vietnam, deploying in the Gulf War and again in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He obtained two masters degrees, one in Plant Pathology and the other in National Defense.  He worked construction, taught JROTC, instructed yoga, worked his farm,  made beer and wine, and loved art and music.

A conservationist, Steven loved the outdoors.  He was an avid hiker, camper, snowboarder, fisherman, and hunter.   A Colorado native, he  passed away in the state not long after returning home.  Services will be held at Fort Logan Veterans Cemetery at a date to be determined.